A Gift of Gratitude

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The vision for a final project emerged from the community’s desire to share a deep sense of gratitude rooted in Indigenous philosophies that consider how everything is connected and the ways in which we are all related. In the spirit of passing on knowledge, three Ottawa-based Indigenous artists worked with past program participants and students to contribute to the vision of connection, renewal and hope for the future.

The final art piece was designed by Jaime Koebel, Métis artist and Sakahàn educator at the National Gallery of Canada. It consists of a tiled mosaic showing the cycle of the seasons. An autumn tree reminds us that as the summer season comes to a close, a new fall season of reflection begins. With winter descending, the north wind brings a deeper time of reflection, when stories are told over the snowy months. Beneath the coming snow, seedlings fall to the ground, as life inside their pods continues to transform. When winter ends, the north wind and its stories leave their memories behind in the lifeblood of those connected to them. When the seedlings break through their old skin in the spring, they bring a new generation whose memories contain the knowledge that everything is connected. When new life finally pushes through the earth, a strong, beautiful generation populates the landscape, restoring its energy and renewing its beauty.

Algonquin artist, Doreen Stevens worked with local Indigenous high schools students, teaching them mosaic tiling. Each student contributed to the art piece and reserved a mosaic leaf for themselves, a symbol of connection to the donor and each other. 

Karen Fleming, an Inuk artisan, taught wire work to youth, parents and community members who participated in the Sakahàn youth programming at the Gallery over the spring and summer months. The time of reflection is illustrated in the sky, which incorporates beaded accents for the north wind.

Under the guidance of Jaime Koebel, who shared her knowledge of traditional beadwork, youth and community members used seed beads to fashion the seedlings. These represent the hope of a new generation.